Lies, damned lies and statistics?

Some interesting statistics from the Johnston Press strike action scenario.
Much has been made of the inconsistent number of journalists employed by JP.
On its website The National Union of Journalists has been keen to point out that the ‘group claims in the annual report that it employs 1,900 journalists and more than 7,000 employees’.
This is, of course, in stark contrast to the total of journalists JP told the High Court it employs – none.
The company instead argued the journalists are employed by subsidiaries.
One thing is clear, this squabbling over statistics isn’t going to solve anything: it won’t help JP pay off it’s £400m plus debts, it won’t help those subs who have already lost their jobs get them back, it won’t improve the quality of newspapers and it sure as eggs is eggs won’t make ATEX run any faster.
As Lord Judge said when summing up in his decision to overturn the ban on strike action at British Airways: “Legal processes do not constitute mitigation.
“On the contrary they often serve to inflame rather than molify the feelings of those involved.”
Having said all that there still remain some key points within those statistics.
Firstly, there is no arguement that within the JP organisation, whether employed directly by the company or by it’s subsidiaries, there are around 7,000 staff members, including 1,900 journos.
That means there are – approximately – 5,100 people employed by JP who do not write for the papers.
5,100 compared to 1,900 who do.
Doesn’t that tell us something about the priorities of JP (hint: it’s not producing high quality papers)?
But the Union doesn’t escape unscathed from the use of statistics in this case.
The first vote saw 550 members balloted on industrial action.
Turnout was 65.2 per cent, with 337 journalists voting on the issue of strike action; 236 in favour (70 per cent) and 101 against (30 per cent).
So while 70 per cent of members in favour of strike action sounds impressive, the truth is that only 236 of JP’s 1,900 journalists actually wanted to go on strike.
And perhaps more worrying for the Union, even if it achieves it’s aim and takes action, only 550 journos will hit the streets (assuming if course all Union members will rally behind the overall decision and take action).
That leaves 1,350 journalists at work.
Make of that what you will…

State of Play: Lies, damned lies and statistics?

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